Yeast Starter Questions

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Dan_K, Feb 3, 2016.

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  1. Dan_K

    Dan_K Zealot (515) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado
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    Hey guys,
    So I am gearing up to brew my first batch of homebrew. I am going to be brewing with my buddy Scott who has made 15-20 batches of beer. I am mostly going to be using his system, but I have some items that I can use.

    Anyway, I chose a recipe that is probably more complicated than I should have for my first batch; it's the Muscat Love from the 2015 GABF pro/am competition.

    Anyway, beer is 1.083 OG and then you add Muscat Juice concentrate which is loaded with fermentable sugars. So you need a bunch of YEAST.

    They recommend for the recipe White Labs WLP500 Monastary Ale yeast 3L starter.
    I don't have access to white labs where I live, but I got WYeast 1214 which should work. (supposed to be equivalent).
    First off, do we think the yeast difference (in strain) will make a significant difference in the taste of the beer?

    Secondly, how the heck do I make a 3L starter? From what I gather, I need a couple days to grow the yeast before brew day. 3 Liters.
    I found this link:
    https://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_makingastarter.cfm

    Wyeast says:
    Recipe
    0.5 cup DME (100g, 3.5oz)
    ½ tsp Wyeast Nutrient
    1qt.(1L) H2O

    Mix DME, nutrient, and water.
    Boil 20 minutes to sterilize.
    Pour into a sanitized flask or jar with loose lid or foil.
    Allow to cool to 70°F.
    Shake well and add yeast culture.

    So do I just triple the DME, nutrient, and water so that I get 3 liters?
    I know that lots of people use growlers for a starter but that's only 64 oz and I think I need more.

    Also I've heard some people refrigerate the starter to settle the yeast down to the bottom, and then siphon or pour the wort off the top so they aren't adding so much liquid to their beer when they pitch the yeast.
     
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,614) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Yes, according to the Mr. Malty website 2124 is the 'equivalent' of WLP500 (the Chimay yeast strain). If you are accepting of this equivalency then you should be OK using 1214. Do you have a plan on how to 'manage' the fermentation temperature. The specific fermentation temperature achieved will have noticeable effects on the yeast produced flavors.

    For your consideration here is a chart from White Labs on this topic: http://www.whitelabs.com/files/belgianchart_0.pdf

    Cheers!
     
    Dan_K likes this.
  3. PortLargo

    PortLargo Zealot (510) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    Before you start, I recommend reading these two links:
    http://www.mrmalty.com/pitching.php
    http://www.mrmalty.com/starter_faq.php

    If this is your first brew you'll not notice any difference in the two strains of yeast.

    My suggestion is to compute how much yeast is needed (http://yeastcalculator.com/). If you're talking 5 gallons you'll need around 300 billion cells. Almost always this is done in steps, let the calculator above (or Brewcipher or Brewers Friend) tell you how many steps are required. Remember, the date of your yeast (listed on the package) determines how many viable cells you are starting with. Example: a two month old packet of Wyeast originally at 100B will be closer to 60B. Any of these calculators will compute the steps and how much DME in each step. Chilling and decanting versus pitching the entire starter is a never-ending debate around here (and the links above) . . . after several brews you'll determine what works best for you.

    You can make a starter in anything, but you'll find an Erlenmeyer Flask (Amazon) makes it smoother. It's not necessary to boil for 20 minutes, if any bacteria is still alive after a minute or two of boiling I'd like to meet them. You'll want at least 1/3 of the container to be empty headspace for your krausen. In the links it explains shaking versus stir-plating the starter . . . YMMV some, that's normal. It's likely you'll need at least two steps, so plan on about a week to start/chill/decant/start/chill/decant (or direct pitch). Rushing your starters isn't recommended, if anything give an extra half-day to each step.

    Please be extremely paranoid about sanitation . . . you really want to keep bugs out of the starter. Agree with you that this is an ambitious undertaking for your first brew.
     
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  4. Dan_K

    Dan_K Zealot (515) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado
    Trader

    Hey I really appreciate the response. My situation for fermentation is I am going to be putting this in my basement, it's current quite cool, probably in the 63-66 degree range. I am going to have to put the carboy on a stand so that it's not in contact with the concrete which can be even cooler.

    Looking at that chart, it would be much better to be on the cool side for fermenting than on the warmer side. A cool fermentation will be a little slower but will have lower phenols. "Clean, balanced, earthy" sounds way better than "spicy, light phenol, fruity". Also I have a weather station I can repurpose to monitor my fermentation temperatures.
     
  5. Dan_K

    Dan_K Zealot (515) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado
    Trader

    My friend seems to think we can make 1 big batch of starter in a 1 gallon glass carboy. I think this offers a couple advantages, less risk of contamination and less complicated. Do you think that'll work though?

    A second easier but possibly still inadequate solution would be buying 2 more packets of yeast and just pitching 3 of them. Not exactly cheap.
     
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,614) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    The other option if you do not want to conduct a step starter is to utilize multiple smackpacks in your yeast starter, For example if you pitch 2 smackpacks of fresh yeast in a 2 liter simple starter the Mr. Malty yeast tool states that you will achieve 300 billion yeast cells.

    IMO the Mr. Malty Yeast Pitch Rate Calculator makes a series of conservative assumptions which yields a very conservative 'answer'.

    Cheers!
     
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  7. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (13,628) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I think the big batch starter will work, and it gives you the additional advantage that it's actively fermenting yeast so there shouldn't be any lag time before it begins.
     
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  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,614) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    If you think you need 300 billion yeast cells to properly ferment this beer in all likelihood you will not achieve this with a single starter (unless you pitch two smackpacks). How many yeast cells do think are required here?

    Cheers!
     
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,614) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Needless to say but this is subjective. The description of "spicy, light phenol, fruity" is what most folks associate with a beer having a 'Belgiany' character. The description of "clean, balanced" is more associated with a beer like an American Amber Ale. What exactly are you looking to produce here?

    Cheers!
     
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  10. Dan_K

    Dan_K Zealot (515) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado
    Trader

    Thanks again for your reply. The recipe calls for fermentation at 64 degrees. My basement area is very close to that, but I'll have to take some measurements first.
     
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,614) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I am a little embarrassed to say that I am a few months behind in my Zymurgy reading. In the latest issue it does indeed state: "Ferment at 64 degrees F for three days." Who am I to argue with a Gold Medal winner!?!:flushed:

    As Captain Picard liked to say: Make it so!!

    Cheers!
     
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  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,614) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    You might find that after the fermentation gets really 'rolling' that you will need to place your fermenter on the concrete floor. Fermentation is an exothermic process (i.e., it creates heat) and since you are brewing a big beer (OG = 1.083) this fermentation will generate a lot of heat.

    Cheers!
     
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  13. chavinparty

    chavinparty Initiate (114) Jan 4, 2015 New Hampshire

    I just started using a tub of water for my fermenter to help regulate temp that might work well in your basement
     
  14. witster18

    witster18 Devotee (489) Aug 23, 2006 Tennessee

    yeah... i'd always err on the side of cooler... UNLESS you're brewing a Wheat or a Saison... then do the opposite.
     
  15. Dan_K

    Dan_K Zealot (515) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado
    Trader

    Small update. We brewed the 3L starter last night and it's going strong. Brewing tomorrow morning, so hopefully all goes well.
     
  16. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,030) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    It sounds like you have decided to put a 3 liter starter into a 5 gallon bath batch. Did the recipe say to do that, or to crash and decant the starter first? Or did it not specify? Be aware that if the original brewer didn't intend for all that spent starter wort (beer) to be added, about 14% of your beer will be beer that has little do with the recipe. In that case, cold crashing in the fridge for a day or two, then decanting most of the liquid, and adding just the remaining yeast slurry to your beer wort would be better.
     
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  17. Dan_K

    Dan_K Zealot (515) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado
    Trader

    The recipe specified a 3 L starter, we cold crashed the starter overnight but were only able to siphon off about half of the wort. But this way I believe we are getting the most yeast cells we could. The majority of the recipe is Pilsner malt so I am not too concerned that the DME will change the flavor much. Our OG was 1.078 and we were shooting for 1.081
     
  18. scottakelly

    scottakelly Zealot (525) May 9, 2007 Ohio

    You made the starter Thursday night and cold crashed it Friday night?
     
  19. Dan_K

    Dan_K Zealot (515) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado
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